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First Steps in SAP S/4HANA

Are you working with SAP software for the first time, or are you switching from SAP ERP and are confronted with SAP S/4HANA for the first time? Then this quick start guide with its concise overview of the functional scope and a clear introduction to the n...



  • Foreword
  • Sebastian Brunner
  • Martin Munzel
  • Philipp Reichhardt
  • 1 An introduction to the world of SAP
  • 2 The basic principles of SAP S/4HANA
  • 3 Materials Management (MM)
  • 4 Sales and Distribution (SD)
  • 5 Production Planning and Control (PP)
  • 6 Financial Accounting (FI)
  • 7 Controlling (CO)
  • 8 Order-to-cash process in S/4HANA
  • 9 Purchase-to-pay process in S/4HANA
  • 10 Forecast-to-fulfill process in S/4HANA
  • 11 Summary
  • A The Authors
  • B Disclaimer

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Sebastian Brunner, Philipp Reichhardt, Martin Munzel


IT Management, Finance, Controlling, Procurement, Production, Sales & Distribution




2.1 The transition from ERP to S/4HANA

As mentioned briefly in the previous chapter, the new HANA database is significantly faster than conventional databases as far as reading data is concerned. SAP thus began, in multiple stages of innovation, to operate the existing ERP system on HANA.

Figure 2.1 is a graphical representation of the transition from ERP to S/4HANA. The first step was to operate a conventional ERP on the HANA database CalloutCaption. However, because the system was not aligned with the new architecture, the only speed benefit was for lengthy evaluations. To take full advantage of the HANA database, the rest of the system, and in particular the transactions that write data, had to be redeveloped.


Figure 2.1: The transition from ERP to S/4HANA

At SAP, work was then undertaken separately on further development of the functions in the Financial Accounting and Controlling modules on the one hand, and in the Logistics module on the other hand. The functions in Financial Accounting were ready for delivery to customers faster than those in Logistics, which is why there are two intermediate products. The first intermediate product to appear was SAP Simple Finance, which corresponds to an ERP system but is operated on a HANA database. This product is equipped with the new functionality for Financial Accounting but with some technical restrictions. The next step was SAP S/4HANA Finance, a new system in which the updated functionality in Financial Accounting is fully developed CalloutCaption, whereas Logistics is identical to that in ERP.

SAP S/4HANA Finance vs. SAP S/4HANA

SAP Simple Finance, SAP S/4HANA Finance, and SAP S/4HANA are different products as far as functionality, release strategy, and licensing are concerned. If your company uses SAP Simple Finance or SAP S/4HANA Finance, you have to perform a migration to operate SAP S/4HANA.

In the next step, Logistics came on board, meaning that with SAP S/4HANA CalloutCaption, a new ERP system optimized to the HANA database in both Logistics and Financial Accounting was created. There is still some remaining functionality from the old ERP left over (referred to as the compatibility content), meaning that a migration from ERP to SAP S/4HANA is possible. This means that in a purely technical conversion, you can convert your existing ERP system into an SAP S/4HANA system by first replacing your old database with HANA and then converting your ERP into S/4HANA. All of your data and business processes remain unchanged. This migration approach is called a brownfield approach, in contrast to a greenfield approach in which you set up an empty SAP S/4HANA system from scratch and redefine all processes.

S/4HANA is not the legal successor to ERP

For multiple reasons, it is important to point out that from a legal perspective, S/4HANA is not the successor product to ERP. SAP always highlights this explicitly to ensure that the software manufacturer is not obliged to guarantee a functional backward compatibility to ERP and in particular, does not have to ensure that S/4HANA can be operated on the same databases as ERP.

The new S/4HANA system is also available in two versions (which SAP calls deployment options): the on-premise edition and the Cloud edition CalloutCaption. We explain the differences between the two options in Section 2.3.

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